Entrepreneurs and smaller companies that don't have their own in-house public relations team often hire external PR professionals and agencies to help get their messages out with press releases, social media posts and media relations.

The trick to corporate storytelling with an outside pro is to treat that pro as if they are on the inside. Here's how you do that and what else you can do to maximize your PR resource.

You have to communicate with your external communicator.

Communicate with your external communicator. Otherwise, you can't expect that person to effectively share your story, your messages and what your company is all about with external audiences like the media.

If you want your PR person to be able to act as your spokesman, pitch you to reporters, talk you up on your social media, you have to give them something to work with and keep them up to speed on what's going on at the company.

Make sure your PR person gets your company newsletter, e-blasts and internal communications. Invite them to company events like town halls even if they didn't have a hand in planning those events.

You and your PR pro should have regular working meetings; show up and be engaged.

When you keep your PR pro informed and apprised, chances are they will spot story possibilities and PR angles that you might have overlooked or taken for granted. After all, you are in the thick of it day after day. Take advantage of those fresh outside eyes.

You have to share even what you'd rather not share. 

Keep your PR pro updated on the not-so-good stuff, too, like the issues that could get negative attention in a news story or on social media. Your PR pro is there not just to get you positive coverage but to keep you out of stories in which you would not feature well, or at least mitigate the damage.

You don't want your PR pro to be the last to know about anything. If you have everyone whose on your account at your PR agency sign a non-disclosure agreement, you should have no problem treating them as company insiders.

Provide access to leadership and in-house experts.

Again, it's about giving your PR pro something to work with as they strive to be your company's storytellers. For example, it's going to be really hard for them to land a profile of your new chief financial officer if they don't get to speak with that person and find a story angle.

The more meetings and events you can invited your PR pro to, the more introductions you make within your company, the better equipped that person is to be your hired storyteller.

Bring busy leaders on board by explaining the PR plan and providing some metrics as to the return on the PR investment. Your PR pro would be more than happy to provide statistics to show the value of regular, positive news coverage. And when it comes to protecting and defending your company reputation, that's priceless.

Published on: Nov 19, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.